USPA Nationwide Security CEO, and startup entrepreneur, Michael Evans has built, operated and sold multiple businesses, including companies outside of his niche, which is the security vocation. From tanning and day spa co-founder to sports organizations and on-line retail enterprises, Evans has had his hands in many industries with much success.
Dealing with stress as an entrepreneur is a challenge in and of itself, and the current business climate has surely exacerbated this issue. Businesses are being forced to close and others are operating on a shoestring budget while the bills pile up. We had the opportunity to speak with Michael about dealing with stress in these unprecedented times.
In your opinion, what causes entrepreneurs to suffer emotionally when things seem impossible?
I don’t know if there’s a universal notion of well being among all people. Certainly, we want our conscience states of psychological distress and contentment to connect in some lucid manner, to the kinds of effects we’re having in our daily lives. That can be translated to being open to error-correcting and being open to conversation – especially our inner conversation. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to make mistakes. There’s a stigma associated with being wrong and pointing out errors in our thinking. I learned in an interview and interrogation course many years ago, not to let a suspect emphatically deny a crime, because they’ll never admit it. That psychological attribute permeates people’s thinking and self-conversation. This leads to a war of words and an unhinged pattern of self-talk, which leads to emotional distress.
When a new entrepreneur feels anxiety, how can they overcome that feeling?
Anxiety, caused by the unknowns associated with business, doesn’t always have to be a negative experience. I’ve learned to embrace the excitement of not knowing the guaranteed outcome. That feeling of butterflies can be akin to elation; the two feelings are similar. While we’re doing this interview, I was imagining what my friend, Sandra, who spent years creating her clothing line, Baciami, only to launch in the middle of a global pandemic, must be feeling. Is it rational for her to worry about the survivability of a new business in the midst of a pandemic? I asked her how she’s dealing with the new stressors and her answer was tantamount to never giving up – overcoming and having faith that things happen for a reason. I mention her experience and response because it’s exactly what new entrepreneurs need to hear.
I would replace, “Never giving up” with “moving forward.” If you continue to move forward, it’s okay to give up on something that’s not meant to be. For me, I remember the let down of not landing certain contracts and then in retrospect, understanding that not landing them was the best thing that never happened. It left me available to land life-changing contracts and it left me more time to spend on my education and preparation. Those opportunities would never exist had I landed what I was going for at the time. I didn’t fail or give up, I moved forward in other ways – and so should you.
When startups begin to fail, what should new CEO’s focus on to get back on track?
The first piece of advice entails the dropping of your business plan. Many businesses fail and that means many business plans were not on the right track to begin with. Remember what I said about moving forward? That includes changing direction. In 2005, my security business was heavily in debt without foreseeable sales to get us out of the red. It wasn’t until I departed from the false sense of security laid out in my carefully worded business plan, that I changed my path. Like many new entrepreneurs, I hired a business consultant to create my business plan.
After all, my college business course, taught by a professor with a Masters in Business Administration, without a single minute of business experience, named a business plan, “the most important part of a new company.” I couldn’t disagree more. I saw that my website was getting 100 visits a day from people looking for a job and 2 visits a day from potential clients. My brother had an idea, which was to create a business out of our website visitor demographic, and we did. We earned millions of dollars in eBooks sold to our website visitors at a time before people really knew what eBooks were. The customer base was there and we formed Blueline Capital. We sold that company two years ago and it’s still operating and very profitable. That new direction opened the gates to where USPA Nationwide Security is today. It would never have happened if we stuck to the original plan.
Any final words of wisdom for business owners in these tough times?
You’ve got to go through your ‘go through’, to get to your ‘get to.’ I heard someone say that recently and that sums up the struggle we are all dealing with. I’m a big fan of David Goggins and I listen to him when I’m in the gym every morning. I think the people who had to struggle to get where they are, get more from an earned day off. When you know what you had to endure in order get a day off, it becomes more enjoyable.
How do you make it when you feel like giving up?
Find your why. For me, it’s to see my sons graduate from college and to walk my daughter down the aisle one day. Those are the driving forces behind getting me up early every morning and hitting the gym, no matter how I feel, then putting in the hard work and never being satisfied. Find your why and make that the driving force to push you through this pandemic and future challenges we’ll inevitably face.